MIND EXERCISES AMONG THE FLOWERS

Our monthly fitness charge was to frolic among a chart of flowers by tallying our week’s exercise, self-assessing the results and assigning our tokens to “appropriate” flowers. To the Physical Exercises suggested, e.g. walking, climbing stairs, I suggested including Mind Exercises because, as an exercise, my tepid, left-handed wave was, well, tepid, and I wanted to move among the flowers.  Once Mind Exercises were included,  I had to figure out what a Mind Exercise was, beyond the daily routine of Wordle, NYT crossword puzzle, Sudoku, Spelling Bee, and jigsaw puzzles [color analysis].  Three “exercises” come to mind

“Begone rain! Come Spring sun! ” says Seattle’s moving body bag that talks.

I cracked a very funny joke. 

During a Poetry Club reading of poems, Steve admitted to being ill-prepared, but he brought his new book of Amanda Gorman’s poetry [Remember her at the Biden Inauguration?] and had already read one poem.  So, as he readies himself to read a second one and looks AND LOOKS at one page in the book,, I begin to laugh inappropriately hard, and convulsively ask, “Is her poem named ‘Silence,’ and are you to say nothing for 3 minutes?”  Steve looks up at me chortling, maybe crying a bit, and says, “What?”, pauses,  and begins laughing, too.  No one else was laughing or even paying attention.

So I  cracked a joke for sure, but is it even a joke if only the teller laughs? I was saved from this dilemma because Steve laughed with me.  Then he said that he wasn’t laughing at my joke; he was laughing at me laughing at my joke. So problem or no, I cracked a very funny joke, and I’m laughing even as I write this.  I award myself an equivalent challenge of a Statue of Liberty up and down climb of 324 stairs. 

I had a really good idea

I can’t find the NYT article about traits of a resilient person [Jane Brody’s interview with Pauline Boss is good, too.], but I can recall thinking, “Aha! These are the traits of an adapter, who, by adapting, demonstrates resilience!.”  This good idea expands my earlier thinking about “adapting as a way of life and living longer” which I explained to my fellow Oldies, but Goodies here at the Landmark.  I  made up three stages of becoming an adapter – accepting, accommodating, adapting – which, if adopted, should lead to living longer.  And, as we here are all of an age, we are obviously master adapters.   

Now, how exciting would it be if adapting were considered a creative act? Every combo of person, need and situation calls for a singular solution which, when implemented, is a creative act of adaptation.  Become one with the  adaptations and, Voila! you are resilient.  Good ideas happen in an “Aha! Moment”, but they happen only to prepared minds and Zoom calls, visits with friends, constant alertness to possibilities which your son pretends to ignore, reading wisely and, apparently, subliminally, and so on.  For the year- long interspersion of maybe significant thoughts, I award myself a tough, but worthy climb of Ireland’s Michael Skellig 1200 rocky steps.

Gleeful evil Oldie plotting? Or Adapter moving oatmeal?   

I thought of the right book for the right person at the right time.

Call it the teacher / librarian / Roseledge Books soothsayer in me, but I love being able to think of reasons why a certain book might be just right for someone else, but it is is a joy and challenge and friendship cementer that requires perpetual attention. 

 For their wedding, Dazzle, who works with New York water, gets Peter Wheelwright’s The Doorman, a mix of fact and fiction about three generations of intertwined families who saw “their” river in the Catskills be turned into a faucet for NYC users, and Andrew, who works with photography, gets Errol Morris’ Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography which the NYT reviewer writes “is an attempt to make sense of the relationship between the documentarian, the documented and the truth.”  Actually, the whole review is worth a read.  For me, the Wheelwright book addresses the nature and nurture of families which is helpful for my family album project [a coming attraction], and the Morris book is among my very few favorite “search books”.   

For their exchange trip to Sweden, the Minneapolis naturalist / educators might enjoy Frederick Sjoberg’s The Fly Trap, about which The Guardian reviewer says,Perhaps the only thing crazier than a hoverfly obsessive would be to write a genre-defying memoir about it and expect to find a publisher and readers. This, of course, is exactly what the writer, translator and biologist has done with The Fly Trap, and a small book about an obscure branch of entomology has become unexpectedly big”  Again, the whole review is worth a read.  The book is one of my favorite memoirs.  

For the perpetual awareness this brain exercise requires, I  think an equivalent challenge might be admiring or hiking the 272 steps up and/or down at Golden Gardens with a ride to and/ or from the park, but for sure with time out for a a latte / book break and lots of ocean ponderings.

And just for the physical exercise record:  I do get a flower for “swimming” each week, during which I walk in, not on, water and with noodle, flutter kick my way to exhaustion.  It’s not exactly swimming, and Charlie helps, but I love it.  

I see a lavish bouquet forming.

 

                                                                               

    

 

 

 

 

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BREAKFAST TABLE TALK

GOOD NEWS ABOUT SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION

In a world befuddled by dis-information or mis-information, a beacon of light appears in Tressie Macmillam Cottom’s column, “How to Avoid Drowning in an Ocean of Information”.

I found it this morning, just in time to share at breakfast. “Not a sure conversation starter,” Charlie, the wet rag, drolled. That, of course, has never stopped me, but just in case it’s a “more coffee, less talk” day, I will share with you her call out to Heather Cox Richardson, whose daily “Letter from an American” I love, and her concluding paragraph, which makes bigger points about finding and choosing from the best available information. Then, I hope you read the whole column.

“Another way to look at information sources is to focus on genre, rather than platform. Newsletters are a powerful entry into the information ecosystem. My theory is that newsletters are an evolution of a very old genre: the new iteration of pamphlets. Political pamphlets are hundreds of years old. They are somewhere between “objective” journalism and polemic. They often present deep explorations of topics and explicitly unsettled arguments. Good newsletters during information events put those window frames up for debate. They are systematic in their analysis of the event but also think critically about the sources that shape the analysis. The historian Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter is a good example….

A good media diet is about more than diversity of sources. It is also about information with different purposes. Investigative journalism takes time and resources. Social media shrinks time and resources but can respond quickly. Newsletters give context and help us make meaning of information events. We cannot parse everything. The answer to the problems created by scale is to acknowledge that we are not infinitely deep containers that can take on as much water as information demands. We must witness, but we must remember that we have limits.”

 SEARCHING FOR INFOMATION IN LIBRARIES

Another time, the “how to find the best possible information” quest needs to address libraries’ ongoing commitment to neutrality, especially in these polarized and polarizing times, if only to be ready for the next argument with a disagreeable friend. Maintaining that commitment to the “intellectual freedom” that an “enlightened citizenry” needs and deserves from the publicly-supported library, which is, in the words of a friend, “the mind of the nation”, is not easy, maybe even under threat, but oh so worthy of discussion.

A BIT OF NONSENSE

My of-an-age son has 7th-grader humor.  Sometimes funny.  Sigh!

SEARCHNG FOR INFORMATION TACTICS

After 40 years of trying to provoke people to care about why they think they know something, I’m now just a frustrated information user who, in the midst of mis-, dis-, or just plain bad information, hopes today’s info-nerds have better ideas about what to do.    Here are a few ideas, with my “interspersions:”  

“Estonia mandates everything from how online content is created to how statistics can be manipulated, lessons about social media, trolls, the difference between fact and opinion and what makes a good source. [Good, but better would be Information as a moving thing, e.g. distribution, change/editing, flowing from source through deltas to merging,…]  

“[Finnish] High school students are given a series of political topics and asked to compile lists of stories and commentary from across the internet, then investigate the veracity of claims. [Vague on skills needed and tactics used to compile and investigate]

”[Stanford History Education Group suggests] that kids learn how to assess the reliability of the specific information they’ve found online, who published it and for what purpose, thus look at the whole ecosystem in which the information resides.” [Life  or “ecosystem” of information is a good idea, but the Internet makes distribution a study in itself, with change of purpose possible at each “growth” spurt.  Frankly, this approach sounds simplistic.]

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Whew!  Good to be finished with that.  I need the tab space for my current Poetry Club assignment of choosing 3 poems from a list of international poets.  ARGH!    Too much angst and flowery language, too little good-nature and crisp-ness. So, thanks to Kathy’s good idea, I’m trying to use the Japanese “founding” of  haiku as sufficiently international to use  Japanese-ish, Caroline Lazar’s very funny NewYorker haiku.  I also need to either “mediate” translator differences in addressing Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, “Psalm”, or just accept all of the differences in one version and be done with it.  Sniff, humph, or say what you will, I’m having a very good time.

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SLOGGING THROUGH OMICRON

We’ve had the first ever cases of COVID in my building. Sigh.  Cases still dribble and we have to be K95 masked, but the breakfast regulars who were or near the infected are back, enjoying treats and each other, and creating false rumors, as only the hard of hearing, sitting  6′ apart in a noisy dining room can do.  I love breakfast, even with the crankies.

But with each COVID threat alert, Charlie worries about me and frets that I may die before preparing  some kind of “clippings file” to ready him for memorial comments, as his dad did.  I’m sure this current fret arises now also, because John Madden and Harry Reid and, earlier. his dad died at 82, which now I am also.  So he asked me, again, to tell him “my stories.”  I’ve explained that any story needs a reason and an audience because the particulars of the story may vary.  It’s the Irish way.  He humphed.  He is a great humpher.

Then, as I read Bob Moses’ NYT obituary, which included his work with teaching math to children, and Charlie taught math to often ill-prepared undergrads, I aha-ed and regaled Charlie with a story.

When I was about 4 or 5, during the War, my dad took me with him to work.  He owned the Coast to Coast hardware store in a building with a basement bar which dad tended, sometimes with me in tow.  I still remember climbing up on the bar stool between two regulars who taught me numbers by pulling tabs or tickets from a jar.  I had great fun.     “It was a speakeasy!” Charlie noted with unseemly glee.                                                                 “No, it was not.  I’m not THAT old, for heaven’s sake.  Prohibition was long over, and dad was the Mayor.”                                                                                                                             “Yeah, but the jar of tickets or tabs was clearly gambling and probably illegal!” he said with ever more glee.  “And speakeasys were dens of illegal gambling.  You grew up gambling in a speakeasy.  You were an early criminal! ”                                                                  I protested, but he was off to share the news.

Clearly, retold stories are not the way, but his frets remain.  Building on the criminality of my speakeasy days,  I offered to tell him the stories behind the art on my walls.  Charlie enthusiastically proclaimed “copyright violation!”  I said it was a one time, personal use, which was allowed.  He countered, “You only own the paper and paint, not the picture, and, also, you might make money!”  I pointed out that my twelve blog readers, quadrupled from my pre -facebook three, were hardly a threat.  And somewhat smugly, I noted that I was not misusing anything;  I was creating a new experience of telling  about storied art with a floppy pointer, which I call “Incorporation Art.”

For example Nina Simone’s commissioned watercolor of the first home of Schaumburg Township Public Library is the background for stories of my time there, and, thus, my first foray into Incorporation Art.  The stories ae many.  I was 24 with a half-finished library science degree and ready to leave teaching high school English and math.  I spotted the posted notice on a 3″x5″ library card: “Wanted: Someone with the pioneer spirit.  Call 529-3373.”  I did and, with no experience, sone imagination, and a lot of energy, the Board gambled, and we were off.  During the next 4 years,  The Township awarded us money to build, plus extra for air-conditioning, and I got to plan the new library building, walk possible sites, host a 6 a.m. groundbreaking to catch the commuters, design and furnish the interior, and have Charlie just in time for him in his playpen to be part of moving day with a book-chain and lots of volunteers.  The Board commissioned 4 watercolors to celebrate and remember our founding home. Today’s Schaumburg Library  is bigger and in some ways better, and so is Charlie, but the founding years were keys, as the stories tell.

Below the STPL, Charlie’s picture, backed by a very faded box of “Wheaties, Breakfast of Champions” is my second example of “Incorporation Art”.   Someday, maybe, they will have narration, too.  I think Charlie’s is his college graduation picture.

I’m founding mother of Schaumburg Township PL ’63, and of / Charlie, number one, only, best son, ’65.

On a different track, I considered using Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “My Favorite Teacher,” as a story springboard, and substituting my similar early library adventures, after my mother called the librarian and told her to let me take out any books I wanted.  But whereas Nikki Giovanni’s choices suggest a mind expanding onward and upward as she grew into a whole person of note, mine were, shall we say, generously,  evolution of a core-less generalist.  I’ve had, and till have, great fun seeing the world through the eyes of many others.

This is Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “My Favorite Teacher.

The reason Miss Delaney was my favorite teacher, not just my
favorite English teacher, is that she would let me read any book I
wanted and would allow me to report on it. I had the pleasure of
reading The Scapegoat as well as We the Living as well as Silver
Spoon (which was about a whole bunch of rich folk who were
unhappy), and Defender of the Damned, which was about
Clarence Darrow, which led me into Native Son because the real
case was defended by Darrow though in Native Son he got the
chair despite the fact that Darrow never lost a client to the chair
including Leopold and Loeb who killed Bobby Frank. Native Son
led me to Eight Men and all the rest of Richard Wright, but I
preferred Langston Hughes at that time and Gwendolyn Brooks
and I did reports on both of them. I always loved English because
whatever human beings are, we are storytellers. It is our stories
that give a light to the future. When I went to college I became a
history major because history is such a wonderful story of who we
think we are; English is much more a story of who we really are.
It was, after all, Miss Delaney who introduced the class to
“My candle burns at both ends; /It will not last the night; /But, ah, my
foes, and, oh, my friends— /It gives a lovely light.”  [Edna St. Vincent Millay poem]
And I thought YES. Poetry is the main line. English is the train.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

The library books I remember without really trying were, in no particular order, a biography of Hetty Green, my first miser, Louis Auchincloss‘s books about NYC’s “upper crust”, Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country and Too Late the Phalarope, about appalling apartheid in South Africa, Thomas B. Costain‘s English history, Nancy Drew, Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie began my lifetime of loving mysteries, Mikhail Sholokov’s And Quiet Flows the Don and other fat Russian novels during one summer, Neville Shute’s  On the Beach, my only post-apocalyptic novel, and Cleveland Amory‘s books about Boston society.  Freshman fall semester of 1957, the flu broke out and kept us infecting and healing in the dorm, where I read the only non-textbooks I could find, which were Peyton Place by Grace Metalious and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.  As I compiled this, all I could think was “AARRGGHH!!!  My mind has no there there!”

So, to give Charlie something bookish, but more substantial, to remember me by, I made a list of my favorite memoirs, each of which twigged something of me as I read.  Here it is.  I love each one all over again in my thinking about them:

Fourteen of my long time, most favored memoirs, 2021 list:                             Fishing with John, by Edith Iglauer                                                                                              Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren                                                                                                               The Scotch, The story of a community where money was the root of much vir, by John Galbraith                                                                                                                                    Old Books,Rare Friends: Two literary sleuths and their shared passionby Madeline B. Stern and Leona Rostenberg                                                                                          Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton                                                                            Principles of Uncertainty, by Maira Kalman                                                                        Travels with Herodotus, by Ryzard Kapucinski                                                                  Caught in the Web of Words: James A.H. Murray and the OED, by K.M. Elizabeth Murray                                                                                                                                      The Snoring Bird: My family’s journey through a century of biology,  by Bernd Heinrich                                                                                                                                               The Thread, A Mathematical Yarn, by Philip J. David                                                          The Double Helix: A personal account of the Discovery of the DNA, by James Watson                                                                                                                                      So Many Books, So Little Time, by Sara Nelson                                                                       Frankie’s Place: A love story, by Jim Sterba                                                                               A Place in Normandy, by Nicholas Kilmer

I haven’t checked with Charlie yet, so so-far so-good. He hasn’t humphed.  Asking “Who am I?” gets trickier when first trying to figure out “Who does he think I am?”.

Coming soon:  The Poetry Club’s  most memorable recent moments, which include a new-ish poem form, and the question, “Does a joke require someone else laughing?

 

 

 

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MORE FROM THE PRE-POST PANDEMIC

I intended for this post to be posted several weeks ago, but things kept cropping up.  For example, I had the introductory sentence, which connected the disparate ideas.

 ‘Tis the season to be jolly, grateful, generous, and thinking about things.

But then, I started thinking about what “thinking about things” means.  I love thinking about things, that time when you figure out what a brain flicker  means and what you are going to do about it. 

That in-be tween time idea reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s quote [from The Rock, 1934]:  “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”   The DIKW crowd added “data”, for unsorted information and “wisdom” for TSE’s “living.”  I  would use the more permeable learning” instead of “knowledge” and the less conclusionary “to act or to do something” instead of “living” or “wisdom.”  This means that when I am thinking about things, then, I am learning, which is true and worthwhile, because it is what I mostly do.   

 I should have moved on, but then I found a “thinking about things” ally in Billy Collins. who wrote  [from “The Function of Poetry”]  “Pretty soon, it was lunchtime. / I wasn’t at all hungry / but I paused for a moment / to look out the big kitchen window, / and that’s when I realized / that the function of poetry is to remind me / that there is much more to life / than what I am usually doing / when I’m not reading or writing poetry.  Clearly, he is advocating looking out the window and  thinking about things while living your life [T.S. Eliot], or reading and writing poetry [Billy Collins], or doing a jigsaw puzzle and listening to public radio [me].

Finally, I am getting to my current outrage.  The Seattle Times headline says it all.  The Vikings Firsters are at it again:  “Nordic Museum [new labyrinth]  exhibit recalls Viking influence in Ireland .” 

Shamrock dominates labyrinth.  YES!  Now who is the influencer?

The Vikings surely DID NOT “influence” the Irish.  Good grief!    It’s true that the Vikings invaded Ireland, but it’s also surely true that the educated, early Christian, Irish monks who had quietly and long meditated ‘mongst the mazes was unlikely to be “influenced” by the loud, brutal Viking invaders who marauded, extorted and dallied among the lovelies, especially as the invaders made only stone mazes in order to trap [or trip?] their enemies.  If anyone influenced the other, surely it was the Irish monks, who, by or in the 900’s, were tired of the interlopers and who, led by the spirit of St. Brendan the Navigator,  taught the Vikings how to do as they had already done and sail the longer distances to the New World. 

“Did you read that in a book or did you make it up?” my brother-in-law asked, skeptically.  “A little of each,” I replied, piously.  “It’s the Irish way.”  “Humph,” humphs my b-i-l.

 Labyrinth justice will prevail, though.  I am going for subtle.  Think “hubris shaming” and check out Charlie in the tee shirt, above.  Now I am trying to find a Banksy-wannabe to spray paint a giant shamrock enclosing the labyrinth that I am tearing up with my speeding wheels in the picture below. 

Encompassing green shamrock will add  definition and mystery.

Maybe some performance art titled “Entente” with my favorite Nordic artist colleagues would be good.  Think yoga-posing,  balletic-flitting, and meditative- wheelies collaborating.     Take THAT, you Vikings Firsters!    

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RESPONSES TO COMMENTS, which I love to get, but to which I am the worst  answerer ever.

 Several of you, which is legions among my readership, asked for a picture of The Colleen.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, Ralph for taking this picture when last he was walking by.  And Scott says he is waiting for the leaves to fall so that he can get a picture of The Colleen’s long, white-shingle over concrete blocks, windowless side.  With these two efforts, I will surely remain, a Bev noted, the designated-namee of a mystery building.  I think the whole thing is great.

Whiteledge, born Roseledge, with The Colleen looming, keeps it’s peace on Sea Street

Others of you among my quadrupling readership asked,                                                                      “How and where are you?” 

I am still spry of mind, and sometimes opinionated.  The body? Not so much.  But with Charlie and my wheelchair, I do do some and could do  more.

 For example I could tow his golf bag and drinks cart.                                                                He is not  persuaded.                                                                                                                       I am not deterred.                                                                                                                                   I can and do  make the computer go weird,                                                                                  He says, “The machine doesn’t like you,” then figures it out and grows in his marvelousness.  I take full credit.                                                                                                       A mother’s work is never done.                                                                                                           I say “I have a plan [or a thought],” or “I can help you,” or “We should….”                                 Charlie sighs and says those are his least favorite words.                                                               I smile winningly, then  have another really good idea.  

He halts the brewing coffee to bring me a perfect cup.  I sip with pleasure and admit I’m spoiled.   He says I am a difficult person.  Charlie is my godsend.  And long lifers are always an adventure at Ballard Landmark in Seattle.

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And finally, in closing:  if you’ve not met Noodle and have no idea if today — or any day — is a “Bones” or “No Bones” day, click here, and have a day brightener.

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Notes from the maybe almost post-pandemic

It’s been a week of provocations, but then most weeks are.

Donald Rumsfeld died, which is not an entirely unexpected or unpleasant thing. But reading his obituary reminded me of something he did that was both memorable and silly, instead of just being memorable and bad. You remember his quote:

“There are known knowns that are things we know we know. There are known unknowns that are  things we know that we do not know. But there are also unknown knowns that are things we think we know, that it turns out  we do not, and there are unknown unknowns that are the things we don’t know we don’t know.”                                                   [A mashup from NYT , WP, et.al]

I   wondered if I could apply it to my pandemic life learning style.

There are known knowns that I think about on many days, in many ways,          The Irish CLEARLY beat the Vikings to Iceland, and maybe to Newfoundland.        Libraries matter on all days and in all ways, and may just save the world.                 Adapting is a way of life, and practice promises possibilities.                                           There are a lot of less interesting known s that I only think about when provoked, e.g.  Donald Rumsfeld, Cosmic Crisp apples, photos of dawn, Louise Gluck, Scott’s mispronunciation of Flucker Street, algorithms, regional hotdishes, radio voices, peppy poets, Russell Wilson’s finger, dreadful Texas etc., etc., etc.                                  There are  unknown knowns that are many and memorable gaffes, laughs, apologies, and, on RARE occasion a suggestion that I might have been wrong.  These usually end up in the stories of my life.                                                                                       And there are probably way too many unknown unknowns that I don’t think about because I don’t know they exist to think about, but if I knew they existed, I would certainly know enough about them to have an opinion and take it from there.

…………………………………………………………….

Seattle edges into Fall, or should I say “dribbles”?

How do I know it’s fall in Seattle? Let me count the leaves’ colors.

………………………………………………………………….

AFRGH!  who on earth would choose to watch “Mare of Easttown” hyped as being “in the tradition of Middle American miserabilism, a genre of shows that aren’t about much of anything besides their characters’ despair and the painstakingly rendered small-town or suburban milieus that inevitably cause it.”?  MISERABILISEM?  AARRGGHH!  

Fortunately, I am from the tenth largest city in North Dakota, a Northern Plains state and a daughter of Charles Coghlan, Wahpeton’s youngest mayor, 1942-46, an activist, who controversially purchased land for city airport,  then rented the land to nearby farmers until there were some airplanes, thereby recovering the land’s cost and then some.  For the record, my dad was not the rabble-rousing priest, Father Charles Coughlin, though he would “autograph” an occasional picture, if asked.  I love my dad.

I had a great good time growing up, and I don’t remember a day when I was miserable or bored.  So a big HISS to   “Mare of Easttown .  ”  For other takes on Wahpeton, see Chuck Klosterman’s Downtown Owl and Larry Woiwode’s Beyond the Bedroom Wall. 

I am in a politically delicate situation.  The rocks are an unwanted gift, not able to be returned or re-gifted.. What is an aging activist to do?   Fortunately., I have a willing and abler ally.

“Rocks, begone!” say unruly Landmarkers, as they tend bee-happy grass.

I  am my father’s daughter.

……………………………………………………………………………….

And finally, a library story that ends well:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Barak Obama is not going to have a presidential LIBRARY.  ARGH!  He is going to have the Obama Presidential  CENTER.  Sigh.  With a big MUSEUM.  More sighs.  I have had so much fun planning the entrance as a reading room with pods , inspired by Maya Lin’s Smith College transformation and Frank Gehry’s expansive vision for UM’s Weisman Art Museum.  But I intend to continue curating an accessible, provocative, well- connected collection of works that address the mystery of Barak Obama, just in case his people see the error of their ways.

But there is good news.  Almost simultaneously, I  am the designated namee  of  the handsome, mystery building, literally looking over Roseledge, and no, it is not a barn, a garage, or a CIA  fortress of secrecy.  It is rather a library/vault, housing, I think, family treasures, organized, accessible and filled with  possibilities, and it is named The Colleen.  What a treat!  I love it.  It, like the formerly red Roseledge, is a worthy addition to what Scott has called  “white house row” on Sea Street It is Roseledge Books reincarnated or reimagined, maybe.

Until more exciting provocations…

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GOOD TIME MINUTES

MINUTES OF THE POETRY CLUB, September 15, 2021

Intrepid Convener Gary, as always, set our task: to write two Limmericks [sic] in the style of Gary.  I amended the task.             

Limerick 1:  AND NOW, SO DO I.

There once was a bird artist named Edward Lear,                                                                  whose poems of  5 lines were both pithy and clear.   

A limerick, it is, he said with panache.                                                                                          Add witty and bawdy, agreed Ogden Nash.

But Gary wants more — 4 couplets, 8 lines,                                                                                     to capture his many cavorters’  entwines.

Then comes to mind  dad, who loved  Nash’s stuff,                                                                      and thought 5 true lines were poetry enough.

And, now, so do I.

————————————

Discussion:  I quite liked my own effort, especially finding out that Edward Lear was a bird artist, and, I thought, cleverly arguing for the traditional format which I then used in my second limerick, but no comments and only very modest applause followed.

A surprise blueberry — colorful, maybe tasty, wrinkled, lovely.

 

LIMERICK 2:  YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART

 We of the Landmark, an unruly lot, may not act with amazing grace.

But our lobby bobby is up to the task of helping us save our own face.

He’s a   mixer, a fixer,                                                                                                                              a tonic, an elixir,

A man for all seasons, a man for all reasons is Devin, the heart of our place.

 ————————————- 

Discussion:  Frankly, I thought this one bordered on excellent, but                                          Steve noted, “You should have titled it, “Ode to Devin.”                                                        I pointed out, ”Devin’s not dead.”                                                                                              Steve: “You don’t have to be dead to have an ode.  Dee [another Poetry Club regular] titled her poem to her dead friend, “In Memoriam.”                                                                Moi: She retitled it when her friend died, and she didn’t call it an “ode” when her friend was alive. [I checked later and Steve was right.  You can be “oded” and alive, but I didn’t tell him and kept the original title.]                                                                                                     Moi cont’d:  Besides, you are just mad because I said that “banshim” is not the word for ‘male banshee,” and    is probably not a word at all.  More likely it’s “banshehee.”  [I checked later.  A male banshee is a “ban-he,” which is not nearly as much fun and should be changed, at leahst, maybe to “ban-hee.” ]                                                                                      Steve:  “Banshehee” is just silly, doesn’t rhyme with “gym”, and also is probably not a word. 

Gary signaled that it was time to stop, so I graciously did not question Steve’s credibility as an Irish word fiddler.  There is always next month’s meeting.

Unruly hat on an unruly head — get the mask.  Time to go rogue.

  And one last haiku for the road. 

  Gary is GREA—AT!                                                                                                                               I love Poetry Club. where                                                                                                       differences can be fun.

Thinking of you, Marcia, and fondly remembering Kathy Lewis’ poetry class at Metro State.  Good thoughts.

 

 

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MORE JOYS

 Weather here was record-setting and almost intolerable for 3 days, but Charlie stretched out on the exercise equipment in the AC-ed  gym and I read (Val McDermid’s latest Karen Pirie mystery, Still Life.) liked it, and wilted  and we survived.  My dad’s hassock fan from the 1940′ s moved a lot of canal breeze and made a lot of noise and the nights were almost good.  Best thing about the 100 degree heat was it made this week’s 80+ days welcome.  Ah-h- h- h!

 IDEA ALERT;     So many thoughts, so little tolerance for dragging finger-pads and  resulting typos that lead to emails.  So I am blogging and YouTubing this group email.  Just skip over any ho-hummers and wonder who on earth would be interested in THAT?                             

Ah, summertime!  When the days are hot, hot, hot, and so are the books. Sigh.

Some joyful notes or noise:   Two of my NYT faves, Zeynep Tufecki and Siobhan Roberts, with food for thought:                                                           

Zeynep Tufecki noted how viruses move, evolve, and spread through scientists, labs, production facilities, testing, delivery, and, finally, guarded captivity, all  within a cloud of government policy and funding.  Life doesn’t get much better than this for a perpetual  student of moving information.    An unexpected but equally pertinent treasure is Errol Morris’s essay on Donald Rumsfeld’s memos which, can support or refute a point, as need for evidence demands   This is good, but nothing beats his book, Seeing is Believing, which is about photographs and perception and the search tactics such an analysis requires.   So-o-o important in this era of screen time and multi- or mixed media reporting.

Siobhan Roberts wrote lucidly, again, about math, this time about MIT ‘s “Artist in Residence” (I love that MIT has one,) and his computer scientist son who make fonts from in this case, a math provocateur’s completed sudoku puzzles.  I love fonts and the colored graphics.

My latest favorite reader is Bill Bratton, former NYPD Commissioner.  His “By the Book” interview reveals a raised, maybe born, reader of all kinds and matters broadly related to policing  He is a lifelong, if varied user of public libraries.  He reads 3 or 4 different books at any one time.  He always finds time to read, especially with his Kindle in his pocket  He  likes murder mysteries, and his favorite detective is Harry Bosch.  Oh my.  Swoon.

I love Nina Katchadourian’s art.   At it’s heart, this mega-mutlti-mediated artist’s work  gathers, sorts and arranges information “into projects that are witty, sometimes even guffaw-inducing. But underneath the playfulness lurk some pretty fundamental questions about how we organize knowledge to make sense of our past and present.”  It reminds me of rearranging my books as each became differently important.  She clearly agrees with my downsized, story-filled art that covers my walls and that, for lack of Larry, is often askew.

Pictures, pictures everywhere,

And all with tales to tell.  Vlog?  Charlie, HELP!

Three fret-ables:

 Aesthetic evolution:  Who decides which art is fittest to survive?  “Here [at Cranbrook Museum, holdings ] are loosely arranged by curators to tell stories of aesthetic evolution.”  How about telling stories of aesthetic expansion instead?  I don’t want to miss something that someone else deemed “less fit.”

Group laughs“[P]eople laugh five times as often when they’re with others as when they’re alone.”  Good grief!  I have always laughed alone, especially at my own jokes.  My mother thought it was a good thing and meant I was okay.  I just hope grumpy others don’t use this as an excuse to remain grumpy.

Group think:  What is wrong with people?  ‘The problem,” writes Zeynep Tufecki, ” is that when we encounter opposing views in the age and context of social media,…  [w]e bond with our team by yelling at the fans of the other one….  In an ecosystem where that sense of identity conflict is all-consuming, belonging is stronger than facts.” Arise, I say ARISE, public libraries and share your multi-faceted information and air conditioning with the hot and hungry crowd.  Re-create the independent thinker.  This is your time.

My fingers are threatening evermore errors.  So I have YouTube-d the rest:                             Charlie’s least favorite ways of being awakened,

and a livestream picture from my window of the Ship’s Canal (available on my youtube channel), on which something is most likely to occur around weekend midday Pacific Daylight Time, when pleasure boats line up to go through the Locks.

That’s all folks,…well, until next month’s news of note collects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COVID TIDINGS, CONT’D, AGAIN

TODAY’S JOYS

I love the idea of “graffiti-ed graffiti,” the public adding to public art and making the art better, like scientists doing great work by “standing on the shoulders of giants” who came before them.  But what happens when the unsuspecting public “added” to a signed work of “abstract expressionist graffiti” in a shopping mall, and the irate artist thought it defaced his $400,000.00 work and wanted $9,000.00 to de-deface it, but I, for oe critic, thought it looked better with add-ons?   

I would show you the articles with art , but Charlie tells me it’s illegal for me to put them in my blog on the ultra slim chance that it might make money, even though a readership of six and  a blog wjth nothing to buy makes it seem unlikely.

 Instead, I have pictures of my latest Seattle public art finds which, I assure you, I can’t add to and Charlie won’t. 

Right caption haiku:                       Octopus as teacher.  Kraken, mascot.  Squid bike rack, usefully odd.  

 

 

Two books I loved that came to mind as I wrote this were The Double Helix by James D. Watson (discovering the structure of DNA)  and On the Shoulders of Giants by Robert K. Merton (tracing concept’s history and use).

……………………………………………………….

Left caption haiku:                                          Bridge mural is great.  So is real thing, a mile more on bike path.

 

I love Heather Cox Richardson.   She is a historian whose “Letters from an American” are like a lovely conversation that gives perspective with footnotes to the day’s events.  She is a 4th-generation Mainer and lives on the coast, which I also  love, and is a superstar on Substack,  which I am glad exists, but don’t know much about.

I love the advice, “Teach children not to talk to strangers, then teach them not to believe what they read on the internet,” but hate that it came from a slander spreader who was a big part of  false-information spreader-networks.  Why should we care so much?

Because “Information warfare threat to the United States is different from past threats, and it has the potential to destroy reason and reality as a basis for societal discourse, replacing them with rage and fantasy. [ Sounds like daily headlines.  VERY WORRISOME.  Emphasis added.] Perpetual civil war, political extremism, waged in  the information sphere and egged on by our adversaries is every bit as much of an existential threat to American civilization and democracy as any military threat imaginable,” says a cyber policy and national security expert to U.S. lawmakers and noted by Dr. Richardson    

So what makes a better prepared searcher, chooser, and user of information?  Attack the algorithms, Farhad Manjoo, whom I love, sort of suggests.  “The internet [which includes social media]  is still ruled by viral algorithms and advertising metrics that prize outrage over truth.”  For example, Amazon’s algorithms, which favor their owned or otherwise linked  works, have never suggested anything ese I might like to read or buy.   Now I need to learn more about the “politics” of algorithms.  As good mothering would have it, she sort of humble-bragged, I have raised a math guy who does not believe I passed a statistics prelim or that there is a “politics” of algorithms.  The challenge is ON.

A bib?  A scarf?  IT’S A BARF!   Dribblers, barf up and make your son proud!

I love Poetry Club, especially the enlightening, but time-consuming search for the perfect poems and poet[s].  I did many Internet searches for and through too few individual poems, too few digitized books, bios, reviews and serendipitous  Poetry Month gems.  I purchased six 1-click books  —  2 collections, 3 individual volumes, and 1 ho-hum murder mystery [ See last post]  —  scanned them all and stumbled across 2 articles.  Then I chose my “World Class” poets and poems.

Two poems by Wislawa Szymborska:   A Word on or A Contribution to Statistics  [thoughtful, wry’] and  Vietnam [powerful; says it all.].                                                                Two poems by Billy Collins:  To My Favorite 17-year old  Girl [wry, wise, and loving] and My Hero [perfect; I love the tortoise; copied below].

My Hero   By Billy Collins 

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish Line,                                                                        the tortoise has stopped once again by the roadside,                                                                this time to stick out his neck                                                                                                        and nibble a bit of sweet grass,                                                                                                     unlike the previous time                                                                                                                   when he was distracted by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower.   

I love libraries, all and forever, where minds past and present meet  to become.  My latest library love is the becoming Obama Presidential Library.  Imagine it as a hub that connects usefully all the records in all the places  and formats pertinent to an an Obama quest and that houses, maybe a changing, body of works to keep it lively.  Maya Lin’s re-do of the Smith College Library is wonderful and rests on many similar ideas.  I love Maya Lin.  And, though I do not love it in the same way, Google’s new designs for work [and study?] spaces area fraught with potentially useful expectations and possibilities.

And where were the libraries and librarians in the Nashville Schools plan to spend 200 million COVID 19 relief dollars?  New or more counselors and social workers, okay,  but where are the phys. ed. teachers and librarians? I fumed.  Where are the fitness and options people that foster healthy bodies and healthy minds?  Bring on PE and librarians for a better tomorrow.  I love libraries and librarians who keep them vital.  The Nashville Super needs work.

I love Maine’s always special wildflowers and Scott’s story-filled pictures.  Can you see Andrew Wyeth painting or Lilius Gilchrist Grace in her glory days?

“I willll frolic in the phlox with friends,” said the tortoise, and the hare hared.

I am the tortoise.

 

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COVID UNWINDING

OKAY, I didn’t win the balloon boat race.

Dee’s boat is clearly hyper. My boat lives the good like, moored, with lattes.

But surprise! surprise!  I’m not filled with hot air, either. 

POETRY CLUB IS BACK,  GROWING, AND ALWAYS A GOOD TIME!   With more than 5, but fewer than 10, we literati of the Landmark, led by the unflappable Gary, met on St Patrick’s Day. We were to have found to read three children’s poems. The fuss about Dr. Seuss was in the news and Irish-ness was in the air, so, I chose to read Kermit The Frog’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and handed out carefully untouched green gummy frogs.  Both were big hits. 

Then, I was in trouble.

I mean, who knows what makes a poem a children’s poem?  I know zippo about what children get or remember from poems written by and read to them by adults.  With much luck and little skill, I found and read John Kenney’s “Quiet Time.”  If my memories of Charlie are any measure and he is the best ever and only measure I have, then Dad-Poet Kenney hit it spot on.  His italics could be Charlie-speak..  And he is LOL funny.

Quiet time by John Kenney (from his Love Poems for People with Children)  

 Late now and light low.                                                                                                              Stories read, time for bed. 

Dad, you whisper, why do sumo wrestlers wear diapers?                                                       No one knows, buddy.  Shhh.                                                                                                       Why does the emperor stand behind the catcher?                                                             Umpire, pal. Not emperor.  Shhh.                                                                                               What happened to the boy who cried wolf?                                                                                     He grew up and works in real estate. Go to sleep.  

Sleep finally comes.                                                                                                                            For me                                                                                                                                           briefly.                                                                                                                                                       I wake with a start                                                                                                                               move like a cat                                                                                                                                 head to the door.                                                                                                                                 Wine Time.

Dad?                                                                                                                                                  (Shit! Damn it! Little bastard!)

Yes, buddy?                                                                                                                                            In “Rock-a-bye Baby,” why is the baby on top of a tree?                                               Because he wouldn’t go to sleep.                                                                                                    The baby fell out of the tree?                                                                                                           He did, yes.                                                                                                                                        And the cradle fell, too?                                                                                                                  The whole thing. Crashed to the ground. I won’t lie, it was bad.                                            Why do we sing that?                                                                                                                 Because it teaches us an important lesson.                                                                              What’s the lesson?                                                                                                                              Be quiet or we put you in a tree.  Shhh.         

I sort of lost it at the ‘real estate,’ line and the last line.  A Public Display of Uncontrolled Laughter, especially with a Santa belly, borders on shameless,  but fun.  Gary suggested I might want to leave the room and compose myself.  I nodded “No,” gulped some air, and sort of kept on reading.  John Kenney is The Man.

Egg or no egg? Only
bunny and cat know. HAPPY EASTER TO ALL.

Next month “foreign poets” are the stars.  After some discussion,  the concept of a “foreign” poet remains iffy.  Is a foreign poet an alien, weird, or strange or, as Mainers say, “from away?”  Is place of birth key or  current residence and for  how long?  If the poems are translated into English, is the translator considered a co-poet?

Gary changed it to  “Great Poets of the World.”

I knew one fitting poem that I loved, “Possibilities” by Polish born, Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymbroska.  Whew!  Finding perfect poems is never easy and only rarely casual, especially as my recent computer dependence calls for a trickiness I am new to.  I knew  “Possibilities,” with its litany of likes and dislikes, from Umberto Eco’s wonderful report of his time in the Louvre, An Infinity of Lists, which I had happened on, knew well and remembered from my page- turning days..

Looking for variety and a second poet, I spotted mention of a murder mystery by Polish-born Nobelist Olga Tokarczuk titled , Drive Your  Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, and thought “Aha! I’ll bet She wrote poems, too.”  And she did.  Cities of Mirrors was her early and only book of poems. Apparently and unfortunately,  only the title was translated, as the book is not available for my Kindle or in Amazon.  This may have been a blessing, because Chapter 1 of the well-reviewed murder mystery about an aging loner’s world, where all animals do or should live respected and respectfully, was a big ho-hummer.  Blame it on COVID crankiness.  So I ordered Wislawa Szymborska’s collection titled Monologue of a Dog and have found several I like for poem 2.

That leaves poem number 3.  W.B. Yeats was suggested, but he was too Anglo-Irish for me, and I like his brother Jack’s paintings more than I like his poems.  Seamus Heaney, another Irish Nobleist was born six months before me [!] and describes marvelously, but I’m not sure he thinks life is worth it.  His poem  “Blackberry-Picking” has both qualities and, so, is just okay, but maybe.  I can choose another Wislawa Szyrmborska poem or sneak in my variation as a homage to the poet and my dead sister, but mostly to my older and only sister.

My sister died unexpectedly in NY and I was mostly chair-bound in Minnesota.  I wanted to have something of our sibling-ness at her memorial service..  So I used “Possibilities'”  litany as an outline of a life, a list of topics the poet and my sister might use to get acquainted — or to be remembered and “Channeling my sister, Charyl Coghlan Pollard, while reading the poem, “Possibilities” by Wislawa Szymbroska” was born.  An excerpt:

I prefer movies.   For me, Netflix and books.
I prefer cats. Only if a pet is a must.  Allergies.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta. For me, low-bush blueberries on the trails in Acadia.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky. How about Michael Connelly?
I prefer myself liking people to myself loving mankind. Yes.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case. Not a chance.  Velcro maybe or replace it.
I prefer the color green. Only if it’s very dark.
I prefer not to maintain that reason is to blame for everything. Sometimes, it’s just bad luck or pissiness.
I prefer exceptions. Is this why no one will go shopping with me?
I prefer to leave early. Not if the ending might be a surprise.

Well, she said modestly, it was a hit!  A big demand called for 50 more copies.  A SECOND PRINTING!  YES!

“Lobster Buoys” by Charlie.  Oh, buoy! I love this.  Ignore the glare.

Charlie has been part of my sister’s and his dad’s memorial services.  Ours is now a family of two, and he frets about not knowing enough of or about my stories, but when I, obligingly, try to tell him, the stories either zigzag into a maze of asides, provoke gasping, unexplainable laughter, put me to sleep trying to be organized or all of the above.  “Channeling Conversations” could be an obituary interview outline for family fretters.  I’ll try it out on Charlie and let you know how it goes.

I love Poetry Club.

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COVID TIDIINGS, CONT’D

SEATTLE HAD SNOW, 6 inches of snow.  That was Saturday and Sunday.  Charlie and I frolicked in the snow.  See picture below.

Mom runs into snowbank. Son takes picture, then unsticks mom. Latte time.

Today is Tuesday.  SEATTLE HAS SLUSH and, maybe 50 degrees.  Pray for a drying wind. But snow is in the air and frequently on my mind.  It’s a pandemic luxury.

A SENSE OF SNOW

As a 4th generation North Dakotan who has lived the last 50 years in Minneapolis, I have some sense of snow, which in my experience, is so much more than a builder of character and reason for nostalgia, though it is those things, too. Remember the excellent book, Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg?  I loved the book and the “snow art” paintings in a recent NYT article mostly about  snowy day memories.

I sent it to Kathy, who liked it, especially the snowing Doig and replied with snowy, likeable, Claude Monet’s “Sandvika, Norway from an issue of The Norwegian American(!).    This shamed me both for her breadth of search and it’s Norwegian pertinence.  Charlie my #1, favorite, and only son, you may recall, is half almost pure Norwegian.  My mother said I was a “duke’s mixture”, more likely a “prairie mix”, but surely not a “Irish mongrel”, as some ding dongs would have it.  My dad only acknowledged the Irish, and I am my father’s daughter.  But I digress.

So, looking at  Peter Doig’s “Cobourg 3 plus 1” probably painted from Canadian memories, and the Monet from his time in Norway, I concluded that Kathy liked “blurry air” paintings, but not, it turned out, falling snow jigsaw puzzles, and that to continue this pandemic lifelong learning conversation, I should think about what I liked and why.  This is fun, I have the time, I wasn’t going anywhere, and the baa-ing “Sheep in the Shafer Vineyard”   on YouTube were good company.

In the NYT article, I liked Kandinsky’s “Winter Landscape” for the exuberant colors which made me think of hooked rugs, fiendish jigsaw puzzles, and the many colors in and of snow, and Monet’s ‘The Magpie,” for it’s stillness and prospects, and/or maybe because a “Wyeth sense” (the Spidey sense gone amok?) had osmosed in me  during my 35 summers in Wyeth country.

 AN ASIDE

I love Jamie Wyeth’s snow art.  His “A Murder of Crows” sits on my desk reminding me of Tenants Harbor’s Southern Island with snow fallen and illustrating his use of blues in snow shadows, apparently in the spirit of Rockwell Kent, but I don’t understand Jamie’s yellow shadows.  One day in Maine I was  standing next to him in front of his newly finished  painting of a glorious window filled with sunlight on a snow- topped rock with some yellow, which, now I think, was probably kelp.  The window was framed by the dark innards of a rustic wall.  I liked it a lot.  He asked what I thought.   “Well,” I said, repeating an art critique of fifty years earlier “I know something of snow.”  I know; I am an idiot.  But Jamie was my neighbor and a really good guy, so we talked of snow.  Now I consider thusly repeating myself a sure sign of diminishing returns.  AARRGGHH!

My earlier  “snow art” critique was in a do-over essay, assigned  by my college writing professor, who did not think my childhood memory of Edna Peschel’s hand-painted mural on her family’s garage door was sufficiently artful for an art review assignment, though he did admit he’d like to see it.  He told me to find something else.  So, in the Boston Store’s Framing Department, with it’s sale table piled high with reprints, I found  Utrillo’s “Winter in Montmarte” which I chose because “I knew something of snow.”  I passed the course, the teacher probably SIGHED and good times followed.

 AND SO….

All these years later, I still know only what I do like and nothing of what I should like, but who cares?   I have great fun deciding.  I think it’s a pandemic gift to lighten up.  Right now I’m making and putting together snowy jigsaw puzzles.  Falling snowflakes are  a pain.  I turned Scott’s picture of whites with Roseledge bushes into a ho-hummer puzzle of “many shades of gray”. Tee-hee.

Scott’s glory of whites —  snow, clouds, house and hall —

becomes a dreary of grays.

No eyes of Kandinsky lurking in that snow.  But with that frolic of thought, let me welcome you to the good-time world of the ever curious, enjoying a long, learning life made more “interesting”, as we say in Minnesota,” by living through a pandemic.  Good friends,               ZOOM, and a sometimes obliging son help.

PANDMIC AND OTHR DAY BRIGHTENERS:

Read only those things that continue to be engaging, switch when they stop, and, later, maybe wonder what it’s all about, Alfie.  So I put down Val McDiarmid’s latest, Still Life, in Scotland with Karen Pirie, always engaging, but this time not so much, and started Jane Harper’s latest, The Survivors, in Australia with Aaron Faulk.

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Figure out how to get Charlie more excited about my caddying for him.  My poker threat is no longer enough.  I could haul both clubs and drinks.  What a deal, I say.  I might need “monster truck” tires for my wheelchair to save the fairways.

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I am totally vaccinated!   This calls for a celebratory haiku.

Life’s a game of tag and I’m in “free”,                                                                                                   well, almost free.                                                                                                                                       COVID begone!

For a celebration of haikus and a million other reasons, watch “The Hunt for the Wilder People” on Netflix  I love this movie.

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The daffodil sprang up.  “Free at last.  It’s spring.”  Then it snowed.  “I’ll be back.”

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A ZOOM quote for the ages: “I am not a cat, Judge,” said the cat-filtered lawyer on a Zoomed legal proceeding.  But who knew?     I laughed so hard that Charlie, sleeping on the sofa, woke up thinking I was choking to death.  Then I played it again and laughed until my stomach hurt.  Self harming?

 

 


 

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